I went back to the hifi store today with my Surface Pro and my own music. I plugged it into the McIntosh D100 via USB and played away. Impressions are similar to last time, but this time I have some more specific notes.
I really noticed that the setup there was overly thick and warm sounding compared to what I was used to with both my speaker and headphone setups. I think it can be attributed to the McIntosh house sound (The D100 is acting as dac/pre-amp), based on what I've read. Is it true that McIntoshes tend to be warm sounding?
I noticed that the treble was somewhat rolled off. The sibilance in Hotel California is somewhat masked by the setup. In addition, the setup was somewhat lacking in dynamics. There weren't huge shifts in volume as expected in some of my tracks. It was overall just kind of soft sounding. Transients were somewhat smeared and slow (Guitar struts in various tracks). Drums hits were not tight and slow to decay. Instruments didn't seem to just "pop" out and fade like what I'm used to with the Yggy. Is that due to a lack of a black background, poor transients, and slow decay?
That's not to say that there weren't any positives to the system. The LS50s filled up the room pretty well and had good soundstaging for their size. One example is on Dogs by Pink Floyd (Animals 2011 remaster): the howls and barks from the dogs seemed to come from outside the boundaries of the speakers. Again from my previous post, imaging was pretty good... BUT, I think it was really held back by the lush sound.
I don't really think that the LS50s were tuned this way, based on many accounts of how they sound. The McIntosh D100 and Classe Sigma AMP2 seem to be a poor match for the LS50s imo, based on my own preferences for how a speaker or even a headphone setup should sound. Of course, it's hard to say which part of the system contributed to what I was hearing but at the very least if I'm correct about the McIntosh house sound, then I have a better idea of the whole system. I can understand that a lot of people may want this forgiving, lush sound but to make an analogy that's often used here: why gimp a hd800 with an overly warm and unresolving amp (violectric amps for example)? It just doesn't make sense to me. I'd love to give the LS50s another chance, but lugging my Yggy and Virtue to the store would take too much work. My best bet would be taking the risk and buying them sometime down the line.
Hopefully this post was somewhat coherent. Please correct me if I used some of these audio terms wrong.